Monday, 13 June 2016

We need to talk about Scottish homophobia

and I don't mean pursing our lips and tutting about secondary school children calling bands they don't like "gay". 

We need to talk about entrenched, institutionalised homophobia. Not old grannies on buses wishing that "they'd do it, but not talk about it in public", but homophobia on a scale of government. 

This week, we witnessed the largest-scale massacre of gay people because they were gay in the West since the Holocaust. Regardless of how the media may try and deny the homophobia inherent in the Orlando massacre; regardless of how they try to spin this as Muslims attacking the Western way of life, it has a simple explanation: a Western man who hated gay people attacked a gay bar with a submachine gun with the aim of killing gay people. 

Hours after the attack, the First Minister tweeted her condolences, showing a photograph of the rainbow flag flying at half-staff over Government Buildings. She said "Scotland stands in solidarity with the people of Orlando, and with LGBTI communities around the world".

Ruth Davidson, the Unionist leader who has done so much - so quietly, and with such dignity - to bring gay people into the mainstream of Scottish society, traveled to London to stand watch at a vigil for the victims. 

But aren't these just mealy-mouthed platitudes in the face of the reality? Omar Mateen was inspired to commit his massacre by his belief that gay people did not deserve the full civil and human rights enjoyed by the rest of society.

Yet Nicola Sturgeon, who claims to stand in solidarity with the gay community, not only tolerates people who shares Mateen's beliefs, but shelters them in her Cabinet. 

Not just a random MSP, not just a junior minister, but two actual Cabinet Ministers share Mateen's views that gay people should not be extended the full civil rights the rest of society have.

Can one possibly marry the First Minister's kind, and no doubt heartfelt words, with her actions in which she chose to make homophobic bigot Roseanna Cunningham her Environment Secretary? When she speaks of "solidarity" with the gay community, are we supposed to put to one side her homophobic Rural Secretary, Fergus Ewing, who has consistently and volubly sought to extend to gay people fewer civil rights than heterosexual people?

How can her "solidarity" be viewed with anything other than contempt when considered alongside a government which contains homophobic bigots like Cunningham, Ewing, and Europe Minister Alasdair Allan, who shares with the above, and with Mateen, a view that gay people do not deserve full civil rights, and has spent much of his political career attempting to block civil rights for gay people?

When, in her group of MSPs, she shelters homophobes like deputies Lyle, MacDonald, Thompson and Mason, who have fought to prevent gay people being extended the full panopoly of rights and privileges afforded their heterosexual compatriots (one of whom votes in such a fashion with the greatest of hypocrisy)?

And as for Ruth Davidson, the self-styled "Opposition Leader"? At least our First Minister has the excuse that she, not being gay, cannot feel the pain felt by the gay community at her continued promotion and tolerance of those who believe that civil rights should not be availed of by gay people. 

Davidson does not have that excuse, and yet she has tolerated and promoted Murdo Fraser, Gavin Brown, Liz Smith and Margaret Mitchell.

It is not often that this blog makes anything other than a moue of distaste and occasional disgust towards the secondary Unionist leader, Kezia Dugdale. But of the three Mateenite bigots in her parliamentary party in the last term, she - deliberately or not - saw to it that two of them, MacMahons Siobhan and Michael, did not return to Holyrood, and that the third was defeated in her bid to be our Presiding Officer. 

Dugdale alone comes out of this with credit. 

Sturgeon, and to a lesser extent, Davidson, emerge from this most appalling tragedy increasingly looking like they are content to shelter fellow-travelers of the Orlando murderer. 

We don't need your sympathy or your solidarity. We need you to act. 

And your first action must be to remove from your front-bench team, and then from your party, those who do not believe that gay people should be granted basic civil rights to match the heterosexual majority. 

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